Both the film and journalism communities were saddened by the tragic loss of documentarian / photojournalist Tim Hetherington. His life, along with that of colleague Chris Hondros,
was taken by mortar fire while the two were embedded among Libyan
rebels fighting forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in the city of Misrata
on Wednesday April 20th. Hetherington's gut-wrenching / soul-searching
video exposes of life within the combat zones of Liberia, Sierra Leone
and Nigeria not only won numerous honors (the 2007 World Press Photo and 2009 Alfred I. duPont Broadcast Journalism awards among them) but also lead former president and accused war criminal Charles Taylor
to issue an execution order on his head during the Second Liberian
Civil War. While Hetherington worked for a short time as an
investigator for the United Nations Security Council, he most
often traveled under the auspices of Vanity Fair magazine. It was such a
2007 - '08 Vanity Fair assignment to Afghanistan with PERFECT STORM writer Sebastin Junger which lead to the filming of their non political war documentary RESTREPO. Winner of a Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival it would go on to reap an Academy Award nomination the following year. Hetherington's other works include the book INFIDEL as well as the films LIBERIA: AN UNCIVIL WAR, THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK and the award winning AFGHANISTAN - THE OTHER WAR
series of reports which aired on ABC's Nightline in 2008. In 2010 he
reflected on his years of combat coverage via the twenty minute
compendium film DIARY.
While sometimes criticized for lavish Oscar night parties and occasionally controversial photo spreads (some cite HerbRitts'Monica Lewinsky
pictorial) few deny Vanity Fair's stature as one of the few remaining
citadels of in depth printed investigative journalism. Since the
magazine's newest incarnation in 1983 (the original version was folded
into Vogue in 1936) the multi-award winning publication has lead the
industry with columnists the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Sebastin
Junger and the late Dominick Dunne (along with photographic work by
Ritts, Hetherington, Annie Liebovitz and others) covering the gamut of
world news from high fashion and high art to low down political
skullduggery and war.
It's therefore no surprise over two dozen of the
magazine's novella length / multi-layered articles have been adapted (or
are in the process of being adapted) into films: if not documentaries like Hetherington and Junger's RESTREPO, then certainly fact-based docu-dramas cut from the same thematic cloth. Three of the best known include Talyor Hackford's PROOF OF LIFE (2000), Michael Mann's THE INSIDER (1999) and Billy Ray's SHATTERED GLASS (2003).
PROOF OF LIFE starred Russell Crowe, Meg Ryan, David Morse and David Caruso. Detailing the world of insurance company employed international hostage negotiators, it was inspired by William Prochnau's VF article "Adventures In The Ransom Trade". Mann's THE INSIDER (1999), about the controversy surrounding the airing of tobacco industry whistle blower Jeffrey Wigand's interview on 60 MINUTES, starred (once again) Russell Crowe in an Oscar nominated performance as Wigand, and Al Pacino as 60 MINUTES segment producer Lowell Bergman. It was based on the 1996 Vanity Fair article "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner. And SHATTERED GLASS (from the 1998 VF article by H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger) told the true story of NEW REPUBLIC writer Stephen Glass's meteoric rise within New York's journalism world of the 1990s, then crash upon discovery that he and the bulk of his articles were fraudulent. It starred Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard and Chloe Sevigny.
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